New doctor happy to be here
Dr. Craig Holland, one of the two new physicians welcomed to Fort Frances at the end of August, is settling into life in Canada and is happy to be here.
“I wanted to do something different,” said the physician, who most recently lived in Michigan with his wife, Pam.
“It was just a good time to make a transition in our life,” he explained. “The kids are gone and there are no grandchildren yet.
“However, my wife, her parents are still in Michigan, so it was a bit of a stretch for her to move overseas.
“So I was working one night back at the hospital in Midland, I was in between admissions and saw a medical journal with an ad in it from Ontario—that they were looking for physicians,” Dr. Holland recalled.
“I thought that was interesting—that I could talk my wife into doing that—so I started to look into that,” he added, noting it’s a long, complicated process.
In fact, Dr. Holland originally had talked to the people in Toronto, but it seemed quite confusing as to how he would get a licence as a U.S. doctor.
“It wasn’t that simple to me,” he remarked. “I had kind of given up.
“Then last October, my daughter had got married and moved to Fargo and thought maybe I should try one more time. Maybe I could look at some hospitals along the border.”
That’s when he came across the name of Todd Hamilton, the local physician recruiter for Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. here.
“I saw his name on the website and I called him,” Dr. Holland said. “Then we started conversations . . . we started the process.
“It took quite a while,” he admitted. “There was a lot of learning for me to do, as well as Todd, in terms of getting an Ontario licence.”
“Hamilton was instrumental in helping Dr. Holland navigate both the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario certification process and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada process,” noted Allan Katz, Riverside’s president and chief executive officer.
Dr. Holland visited the Rainy River District informally last October, then had an official visit back in January.
“I met the gang,” he remarked. “I heard what they thought about the practice, and I thought it sounds like an interesting place and some nice people that I could probably work with.”
He indicated his wife is enjoying it here, but added it is a bit different than living 15 miles away from Saginaw and Midland in Michigan.
“It’s far different,” he conceded, citing the distance required to visit a shopping mall.
“But we had our children when we were in the military and we were stationed in a rural area in the upper peninsula of Michigan, and we lived in northern Michigan, too, so we’ve lived in more rural areas.
“But it’s very friendly here and that’s the biggest thing,” he stressed.
Dr. Holland noted work on the job also has been going well so far.
“The doctors and staff are all real supportive,” he said. “I have a lot of questions.”
While he said he has to learn a new system, the medicine and practices here also are a bit different.
“A lot of the drugs have different names here or some of them aren’t available here, and vice-versa—they have things here that they don’t have across the river,” he explained.
“Units are different, too . . . I’ve had 30 years of knowing what a normal blood sugar is and it is shown in different units here.
“So the numbers are completely wacky, so I’ve had to put some conversion factors in my head,” Dr. Holland added.
“Then there’s finding out who to refer, what you can do, what’s most appropriate to manage.
“But everyone is real helpful here.”
Dr. Holland said he does understand the district could have difficulty recruit physicians due to several factors—one being relatively isolated geographically.
“But I guess that’s just part of the lifestyle,” he reasoned.
“It doesn’t bother me too much,” he added. “It’s a beautiful area and you can go down to the river walk.
“It’s very scenic, so it’s great if you like scenic things and being outside and just walking.”
Dr. Holland reiterated he’s enjoying life here.
“The job I came from, I was doing exclusively hospital work and we would do shift work basically,” he recalled.
“We were pretty much stuck in the hospital, so it’s nice to have days where you get home at a reasonable time.”
Dr. Holland said he and his wife plan to continue to rent their home here until the spring.
“I want to get familiar with the job and the area before we take that type of step—it’s a big step,” he said about buying a home.
The other new doctor, Dr. Melanie Halvorsen, also is working at the Fort Frances Community Clinic, in addition to providing emergency department and hospital services.
She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa Medical School and is returning here to her home town, along with her husband, Jeff Bottomley, an engineer, and their daughter.